Mindless Consumption

Mindless consumption

by Tim Castleman


There is a major disconnect going on in the United States regarding petroleum. Everyone pretty much agrees that we use too much, that it is ruining our air and water and that traffic jams are a major drag.

But NO ONE wants to actually do anything about it! Here we are, bogged down at war in the Middles East, with young Americans dying or getting wounded every day, and folks STILL insist on not only driving whatever size vehicle they want, anywhere they want to go, at any speed they can get away with!

Believe me, as an alcoholic that has been sober since 1991, and as an ex-tobacco addict, I understand addiction. Politically Right or Left, citizens of this country are addicted to petroleum! 

The bush regime is not unlike the local crack dealer, they give the drug free or at very low cost until the people are addicted, then gradually raise the price until the addicts are willing to do anything to keep and protect their supply. Heaven help the fool who tries to reason with them to moderate their use.

The addicted go out every day and by hook or by crook get enough money for another dose of the drug that has them in a death grip. Then they faithfully return to the gas pump to get their fix - hopefully it will last long enough until they can round up enough money for the next fix!

Meanwhile, the dealer hires thugs and buys fancy cars and homes with high security using the plunder his victims have stolen from each other! The hallmark of addiction, DENIAL, is in full force and some of the addicts will even defend the dealer with their very lives. Others, who have been around for awhile, see the problem but feel powerless to do anything about it.

Another hallmark of addiction rears its ugly head, BLAME, and the addicted all start pointing at each other, the dealer, their families, their living conditions, the economy, big business and anyone else that comes to mind. Addicts will do anything to avoid taking personal responsibility for their miserable condition.

To be fair, some players in the game are wise to it and are just making the most of each day, ignoring the uncertain future their children will face. They will use all manner of rationalization and justification to avoid dealing with the ugly truth of over-consumption, pollution, and funding of the petroleum warlords. How many of these corporate puppets are just unwilling to give up the comfort that has been bought and paid for by DoD contracts?

No, for those working closely with the Dealer, life is not too bad. There is plenty of the drug available, creature comforts abound and they can even fool themselves into believing they are actually living a life of virtue because they shop at all the best stores and eat only organic food. 

Well, I have bad news for these gluttonous hypocrites: You, or your offspring, will suffer for your excessive mindlessness. All the advanced spiritual woo-woo in the world will not save you from reality. Loyally doing your spiritual practice by listening to a Native American flute tune played by some white guy with long hair as you speed along in your SUV will not save you from the inevitable.

And all along the way, ever present, are pit stops to get the fix: another tank-full of petroleum. 

Join the race, hurry to the next red light! Skillfully dart in and out, switching lanes, accelerate, now hit the brakes, and now hit the gas, damn! That idiot beat you to the open spot in the lane ahead. THIS is mindless consumption of an addictive drug, petroleum. 

Hop in the car, run up the street for ice cream, take a ride to the "country" just for something to do, ignore the smog alerts and refuse to carpool or take public transit, THIS is mindless consumption.

There is a solution.

The solution is rooted in honesty, integrity, and as Scott Peck said in "Road Less Traveled", a Dedication to Reality. It is time to get honest about our over-consumptive western lifestyles. It is time to accept the reality that there is not an endless supply of free resources available for our industrialists and military to plunder. The solution to the pending energy/pollution/health crisis is in a path to CONSERVATION. We simply must learn to use less. This will mean smaller cars, driven slower, more mass transit, carpools, and alternative transportation.

Conservation will also mean paying the true price for petroleum products at the pump, which will be somewhere between $5 and $25 dollar per gallon. This will bring to an end the concept of hiring a plumber to drive 50 miles to provide his service. It will be the end of 60 and 80 mile daily commutes to work and back. It will mean setting the thermostat up or down a few degrees and turning off lights in rooms that aren't in use. No longer will we be able to leave multiple high wattage lights blazing all night to defend an empty building. Water will need to be used sparingly to reduce the energy cost of pumping it out of the ground and through sewage treatment plants.

These are all things people will need to do on a personal level. Sooner or later, we will no longer be able to just blame industry and government for our troubles - we will be forced to accept responsibility for our part in the sickness, and do the simple things to simply use a little less. We will do this for our children and grandchildren, and for the rest of the world we will no longer need to use our military to plunder their resources. The world will be at peace, when we get out of our addictive cycle of consumption, denial and blame.

The solution is Conservation. Let the Conversation begin.